In the lead up to another dance spectacular at Tapapakanga, our editor caught up with one of his favourite emerging DJ’s out of the UK, Ruby Savage. You can catch her live at Splore 2020.
Keegan: What is the premise behind, ‘In Flames‘?
Ruby: In a short, simple & direct way, “In Flames” started as an NTS radio show delivering music and a cultural ethos inspired by early 80’s DIY scenes across the globe. The parties we throw are all about contorting to the funky side of post-punk, dub and freaky disco. No rules. Just fun.
K: Do you think people take DJ’ing too seriously?
R: People should think and do what they feel, but I can say for myself that there’s been nights that certain DJs have indeed saved my life and for that I’m very thankful. Therefore I do think it’s important to keep taking the job very seriously cause you know, with the saving lives and all 😛
K: Speaking of vibes, i notice you’re very anti creeps on the dance floor which i’m a huge fan of. How did it start?
R: Thanks! Glad you’re a fan!! There’s a song by Bush Tetras called, “Too Many Creeps” – if you haven’t heard it, defo check it out! Anyway it inspired me to design the Don’t Be A Creep logo which I then did a lil Tshirt run of. The Tees were meant to deter creeps while I was DJing or out dancing. It’s still hit and miss on that front but it definitely started a dialogue! Unfortunately there’s still so much harassment going on in nightlife culture and it’s gone unchecked for so long…consider this a gentle reminder to not be a creep.
K: How do you find trying to navigate being in a male dominant space? Do you feel you’re in a position that most men wouldn’t have the balls to try it on?
R: NO! [Laughs]
They’re always out there! There’s always one other mother fucker! [laughs]
Having said that, I’m finding it’s particularly men that are excited to show their solidarity towards those that suffer from this patriarchal world we live in, yep there I said it: the ‘P word’. Unfortunately we’ve all been conditioned by it and it’s allowed creepy behaviour to go unchecked for too long. A lot of men totally understand that and it’s very important to me that they are part of the movement in making music and nightlife a fun experience for everyone.
K: Outside of DJing, you work in other elements of the music industry. You’ve worked at Brownswood Recordings, Honest Jon’s & you’re now working at Gilles Peterson’s new reissue label, “Arc Records”.
R: Yeah I’ve worked at indie labels for the past 10 years! But it’s only been contemporary music so when Gilles decided to do a reissue label it was really exciting for me to delve into a whole different way of releasing music. We started talking about what to call it and what he wanted to bring to surface dipping into his incredible basement archive (get it- his Arc). So the aim is to create these beautiful reissues of curiosities highlighting the incredible stories that brought them to him. The first release has done really well and I’m so excited about the next ones.
K: Do you think the whole reissue culture is a good thing? Is it a bad thing taking a thousand dollar record and making it forthy bucks?
R: I get that people are pissed off but if you’re dropping a grand on a 7” you may need to rethink what exactly it is you love about music? [laughs]
What I do find interesting tho is that through this massive spike in reissue releases there’s this new generation of music heads that are fully informed on these super obscure records but they’ll have no clue of staple dance floor classics. Another aspect I enjoy is that now that pretty much every tune is available at a finger’s tip, the actual skill of DJing is coming back to the forefront cause you might have all the hot tunes but can you rock them to a crowd?
K: I’ve noticed over the last year you’ve been leaving the UK more. You’ve been in Brazil recently, how was that?
R: I love leaving the UK… especially since Brexit!! Brazil was incredible. I feel very fortunate to have experienced that. It’s easy to head to Brazil with that stereotypical carnival reference in your mind but then you get there and you feel the actual people, when they’re in the dance they’re showing so much openness + such insanely high levels of energy. Truly magical. It was a joy to be received like that!
K: Do you think that’s cos of their circumstance?
R: I can’t speak for their circumstances and it’s definitely not a comparison but I do recognize that high energy level on London dancefloors which I can say from experience is definitely born from struggling through that London life…it can be tough sometimes. By the end of the week you just want to shake it all off. So yeah maybe it’s a similar thing for them too…
K: While we’re on the topic of dance floors, what dance floors informed your life?
There’s an infamous photo of me aged 13 with my mates in the main room during Bassline at the Paradiso in Amsterdam which was my first musical stomping ground. At the time it was strictly Hip Hop but ever so often I’d dip into room 2 and they’d be playing Fela Kuti, James Brown… all the roots of the Hip Hop music. Those moments stuck with me and eventually I was living for room 2.
Then moving to London, it was Plastic People. That changed everything. Maybe it was Mr Theo Parrish that said it, the sound in there was in perfect balance it almost became a third person: you had the DJ, the dancers and the sound. That synergy just changed everything. Also Ade, the founder of Plastic People didn’t want to divide the people or the club nights down to genre. He felt strongly about making the club about connecting like and open-minded people. Many unions were made on that dance floor
K: It’s funny how these things can bring people together. You can have marriages come as a result of these spaces.
R: Absolutely. When you can find a place where you can communicate through dance and music it becomes like a church and in the purest essence that simply put just makes it about love.